Marriage and Family: Get Ready, Get Set

Are You Prepared?

You are all ready, no doubt. Or are you? I am not referring to the wedding. Anyone can plan a spectacular wedding. Do not make the grave mistake of confusing a wedding with a marriage. If you have enough money, you can hire a wedding planner and leave all the details to her. If cash is short, there are mothers and mothers-in-law, bridesmaids and maids of honor, all of whom are willing to help. Preparation for the wedding is relative child’s play compared to preparation for a marriage. If you can get past the childhood dreams of the perfect wedding, the unforgettable honeymoon in an exotic location, and the initial euphoria of it all, and focus for a moment on this being the “rest of your life,” perhaps something of the importance of what you are doing will begin to dawn on your soul.

Aside from your salvation, marriage is the most important decision you will make. It will establish the course for the remainder of your life, including your potential and usefulness for the Lord. How prepared you are when entering into the relationship of marriage will either impede your progress, delaying your usefulness, or will abet it.

Preparation for marriage is not just a matter of reading a few books on marriage and family, as helpful as that may be. It is not even understanding the scriptural character of marriage as God intends it to be. It involves being the person God intends you to be. As someone has said, preparation for marriage is not so much about finding the right person as it is about becoming the right person!

Am I Prepared Spiritually?

What measure of spiritual development am I bringing to the relationship? You are not expected to have the spiritual development of someone twice your age in Christ; you are, however, expected to have the character commensurate with your age as a believer in Christ. Marriage will test my spiritual character. The nine-fold fruit of the Spirit is not something reserved for Sunday mornings and the mid-week meetings (Gal 5:22); it is a critical commodity for your marriage relationship and, ultimately, in raising a family.

Take just the importance of love. Your initial response to this may be that if anything is present and already developed prior to marriage, it is your love for your intended spouse. But the Spirit of God is not concerned with a romantic, goosebump-producing emotion. The love which the Spirit of God develops in the soul of the child of God is a selfless, sacrificial love for another. It means that I will always consider my spouse – doing what is best for another. It will mean a love for holiness, purity and fidelity. It is this kind of love which will enable you to weather the inevitable differences and difficulties that occur when a son of Adam and a daughter of Eve are brought together in the closest of earthly relationships.

Marriages will also face trials from external sources. None of us escape the circumstances of life. Here again, a knowledge of God is crucial to dealing with the pressure. What you have learned of God in your own personal life is what you can then bring to the marriage to enable you to work with your spouse to resolve those difficulties and to remain faithful to the Lord amidst the trials. Some of the trials you may be called upon to face may seem overwhelming to you unless you have learned God in the everyday events of life.

Am I Prepared Emotionally?

This may actually be as important or more important than being prepared spiritually. If I am a “needy” person, I will be making demands on my spouse which only the Lord can fill. If I come to the marriage with the expectation that every need is going to be met by my spouse, I will likely be sorely disappointed. This is not a reflection of failure on the part of my spouse; it is an indication of my emotional immaturity.

As believers, we are “complete in Him” (Col 2:10), and have every need met by our union with Him. The Lord will use various means to meet my needs: fellowship with Him, the encouragement from fellow saints, and the blessing of a spouse by my side. That does not mean I become indifferent to the needs of my spouse. The Lord will use you to meet needs of security, significance and love toward your spouse. But I must never demand it of my wife. I am a channel through which His fulness can flow to my wife. I, in turn, must look to the Lord and not to my wife for those needs to be met.

If a husband demands his wife provide him with significance, he is making unrealistic demands which she will not be able to meet. If his ego needs constant stroking, if her security needs daily reaffirming, if one member must always “win” in every confrontation, the atmosphere for a good marriage has been poisoned. Do I as a wife need my husband to be constantly telling me how beautiful I am? Do I, in turn, demand so much of him that he cannot be who God wants him to be? Do I as a husband forget that my wife needs time with the Lord and is not expected to be waiting upon me constantly?

Am I Prepared Financially?

In Proverbs 24:27 we read, “Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house” (KJV). While there may be some latitude in interpreting this proverb, the plain sense appears to be that prior to establishing a “house,” a man should be prepared financially, from his work in the “field,” to support a wife.

That does not necessarily mean that he must wait until his career is established and there is money in the bank before marriage. A couple must decide, based on their current earning capacity, if they are able to live and be financially independent. There may be rare instances when there is need for help from parents, but that should be the exception. The biblical pattern is to “leave father and mother,” which entails the financial support they supply for you when growing up. Assuming the role of headship in a marital relationship means assuming responsibility for the welfare of your wife and for the relationship. Marriage establishes a new headship and entity, and if established along the scriptural lines which God has provided, it has the potential of being the most fulfilling relationship of life.

Preparation for marriage touches upon spiritual, emotional, developmental and financial realms in my life. I only wish someone had taught me this when I entered marriage!